Kedleston Hall

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Kedleston Hall is an English country house in Kedleston, Derbyshire, approximately four miles north-west of Derby, and is the seat of the Curzon family whose name originates in Notre-Dame-de-Courson in Normandy. Today it is a National Trust property.

The Curzon family have owned the estate at Kedleston since at least 1297 and have lived in a succession of manor houses near to or on the site of the present Kedleston Hall. The present house was commissioned by Sir Nathaniel Curzon (later 1st Baron Scarsdale) in 1759. The house was designed by the Palladian architects James Paine and Matthew Brettingham and was loosely based on an original plan by Andrea Palladio for the never-built Villa Mocenigo. At the time a relatively unknown architect, Robert Adam was designing some garden temples to enhance the landscape of the park; Curzon was so impressed with Adam's designs, that Adam was quickly put in charge of the construction of the new mansion.

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External design

The design of the three-floored house is of three blocks linked by two segmentally curved corridors. The ground floor is rusticated, while the upper floors are of smooth dressed stone. The central, largest block contains the state rooms and was intended for use only when there were important guests in the house. The East block was a self-contained country house in its own right containing all the rooms for the family's private use, and the identical West block contained the kitchens and all other domestic rooms and staff accommodation. Plans for two more pavilions (as the two smaller blocks are known) of identical size, and similar appearance were not executed. These further wings were intended to contain, in the south east a music room, and south west a conservatory and chapel. Externally these latter pavilions would have differed from their northern counterparts by large glazed Serlian windows on the piano nobile of their southern facades. Here the blocks were to appear as of two floors only; a mezzanine was to have been disguised in the north of the music room block. The linking galleries here were also to contain larger windows, than on the north, and niches containing classical statuary.

If the great north front, approximately 107 metres in length, is Palladian in character, dominated by the massive, six-columned Corinthian portico, then the south front (illustrated right) is pure Robert Adam. It is divided into three distinct sets of bays, the central section is a four-columned, blind triumphal arch (based on the Arch of Constantine in Rome) containing one large, pedimented glass door reached from the rusticated ground floor by an external, curved double staircase. Above the door, at second floor height, are stone garlands and medallions in relief. The four Corinthian columns are topped by classical statues. This whole centre section of the facade is crowned by a low dome visible only from a distance. Flanking the central section are two identical wings on three floors, each three windows wide, the windows of the first-floor piano nobile being the tallest. Adam's design for this facade contains huge "movement" and has a delicate almost fragile quality.

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